Thursday, 21 January 2016



 In my first article in this series, in which I offered a brief introduction to Creepypasta (short horror stories or unsettling images/ videos copied and pasted throughout the internet), I touched upon the fact that many Creepypastas rely upon suspension of disbelief to be effective.
Sometimes it relies on a reader willingly working with the tale, but at other times the storyteller presents their tale in such a way that the audience can’t help be caught up and go along for the ride.
One of the most convincing — and famous — of these is the story commonly referred to as BEN Drowned or Haunted Majora’s Mask

The manner in which the internet (especially message boards) allows for believable episodic storytelling, plus the inclusion of supporting media such as images, sound and video files, was beautifully utilised back on 7th September, 2010, when a user ‘Jadusable’ recounted a ghoulish tale of a haunted video game to his fellow 4chan /x/ board users.
The very long and detailed story (which you can read in its entirety here) is well worth taking the time to read, but to summarise, Jadusable was a college student who got his hands on an old Nintendo 64 games console and subsequently sought out some games for his hardware. At a local yard sale he discovered a strange looking copy of the classic N64 game The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, which he was then given by the creepy old man holding the sale.
Upon playing the game Jadusable noticed the game had a saved file named BEN and, despite deleting this file, the ingame characters would regularly refer to him by this monicker. Later Jadusable describes attempting to use the famous ‘Fourth Day Glitch’ (a trick that can be used to beat the game’s internal time limit), however, this caused the game to warp, with messed-up graphics and eerie reversed music, and propelling him into a series of spine-chilling encounters with characters within the game: the creepy Happy Mask Salesman; the diabolical Skull Kid boss and a relentless, haunting Elegy of Emptiness statue.
Jadusable went on to post links to Youtube videos he made to support his increasingly spooky stories (day four.wmv; BEN.wmv; DROWNED.wmv; and jadusable.wmv.)
Finally an individual claiming to be Jadusable’s roommate uploaded two last files at Jadusable’s request — one a final video (free.wmv); the other a text file uploaded to MediaFire titled The Truth, which you can download here.
Through these we discovered the true depth to which the entity by the name of BEN haunted Jadusable, somehow possessing his computer and conversing with him via unnerving cleverbot chats, all the while playing a series of cruel mind-tricks on its victim. Jadusable eventually points out that he feels he has been able to trap the entity in his laptop which he would then destroy. However, the last lines of the text file (which unwitting readers would have downloaded, hence downloading BEN with it) suggest that BEN has now fled into the internet. Furthermore, Jadusable said that nobody should trust anything coming from his YouTube account after 12th September 2010. Shortly after that date, Jadusable’s profile pic became that of the relentless Elegy statue from his story and his location changed to: ‘Now I am everywhere.’

Plenty of web users found themselves caught up in this tale, and for good reason. It’s wonderfully well-told and, brilliantly, the final chapter even goes so far as to address any shortfalls/shortcomings in the text/videos by revealing that BEN has been altering and editing Jadusable’s work to undermine and discredit him.
It’s a fantastically worked piece of fiction… but it IS fiction.
Since the story went viral, Jadusable has revealed his true identity, Alex Hall, and stated that the entire thing was an elaborate work of art he concocted while bored at college. Since then he has gone on to achieve plenty of success thanks to the project (which even expanded with a second arc revealed by playing along with an Alternate Reality Game, or ARG, that incorporated a mysterious cult called The Moon Children) and is set to soon release his first movie, Methods of Revolution. The movie draws influence from his own battle with writer’s block and a lack of inspiration following the tremendous success of BEN Drowned.

So what caused this success? Why did BEN Drowned resonate so well?
As obvious as this statement may seem, it worked first and foremost by being good. Well written, well plotted, well supported and cleverly told, BEN Drowned is head and shoulders above some of the more slapdash Creepypastas out there.
What’s more, it mines the inherent creepiness of items that are out of time. Much like eerie gramophone records, old film footage and even creepy and black-and-white photographs have become horror staples due to their inherent ‘alien-ness’ to modern audiences (not to mention the fact that older items have their own history, one which could involve any amount of death or depravity), the passage of time is now shifting familiar items from our own youth into the realm of artefacts. There is a whole generation of youngsters who never used an audio cassette or watched a VHS. The tech is completely and utterly unfamiliar to them. This same generation could well have missed the height of cartridge-based video games. Majora’s Mask was released in the year 2000, by the time Jadusable wrote his BEN Drowned story in 2010 there would have been teenagers reading it that had no memory of the N64 or its games.
Furthermore the cursed artefact trope has been a staple of horror for as long as the genre has existed, with tales of haunted books and paintings paving the way for the infamous cursed videotape of Koji Suzuki’s novel Ring and its various movie incarnations. The potency of taking the everyday and subverting it into something menacing cannot be overlooked when it comes to crafting scares, especially something seemingly fun and associated with the innocent days of our childhood.
What’s more, by the very fact that the story is being told on the web, it’s pretty safe to assume that the reader has a level of tech-savvy and probably a gaming background that makes them that little bit more susceptible to the chills of the story, as they imagine how easily they too could have succumbed to BEN’s trap.
Of course, the success of ‘haunted/cursed video game’ stories was never going to go unnoticed, and perhaps BEN Drowned’s biggest contribution to the Creepypasta community was the legacy of ‘spooky game’ stories it bequeathed. The floodgates opened and since then there have been hundreds of stories of similarly diabolical cartridges, including the very cool indeed Pokemon Black

Even today, six years on, BEN Drowned remains relevant, whether it be via the scores of copycat stories or the masses of fanart posted to sites such as, many of which featuring one of the story’s catchphrases, such as ‘You shouldn’t have done that’ or ‘You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?’. Hall created a legitimate phenomenon among web horror stories, a contribution that was recently recognised when web-based production company Machinima announced it as one of the titles to be covered in its upcoming project Clive Barker’s Creepy Pasta.
A series of live-action shorts addressing infamous urban legends, horror maestro Barker’s new programme will see BEN Drowned reach an even wider audience, along with perennial favourites Slender Man and last week’s subject, Jeff the Killer. Much like the sinister entity lurking within Jadusable’s hard drive, the influence of Alex Hall’s story is only set to spread and spread.

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay. 

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